Spring Dance Concert Explores Range of Movement, Emotion

April 30, 2012 / by / 0 Comment

Review by Michael Ferraresi
GCU News Bureau

Photos by Ruth Nsubuga

Concepts of fear, exaltation and faith performed in the weekend’s Ethington Dance Ensemble spring concert highlighted the range of talent currently present – and likely to be developed in the future — in GCU’s dance program.

The jarring ensemble performance in “Commute” evoked feelings of disconnect in the modern world, shown through a motorist’s daily drive.

The modern dance pieces on Friday and Saturday night at Ethington Theatre ranged from slow and sexy, set to languid classic jazz beats, to up-tempo dance paced by electronic music.

The College of Fine Arts and Production’s concert, titled “@,” included 10 dance pieces — three by GCU students. Others were choreographed by GCU dance faculty and metro Phoenix dance companies.

GCU dance director Susannah Keita choreographed the opening piece in the series of performances. Titled “Survival Is Not a Color,” the piece featured several dancers who shifted between contemporary scenes in search of spiritual strength.

Music in Keita’s piece moved from a hypnotic, modernistic track by the Mars Volta seemingly back in time to a smoky, purple-hued jazz club (set to a piece by the Duke Ellington Orchestra). The piece expressed the desire for social integration, tolerance and cultural diversity.

A piece titled “Commute,” by choreographer Jessica Rajko, used sound effects of city traffic and police helicopters to emphasize the panicked pace of daily life. Crawling, twisting dancers shared time under a spotlight, highlighting the singular experience of driving in a car through a multitude of people and lives, which often go overlooked.

The first half of the show ended with a piece choreographed and performed by GCU junior Antoinette Proctor, who drew her inspiration for the piece partly from her 31-year-old brother’s death from a drug overdose.

GCU junior Antoinette Proctor performed “Long Suffering,” a tribute to Christian women inspired by tragedy in her family.

Proctor, 21, introduced the piece by dancing solo, beginning with no music – just a silent body explaining how pain leads to inner strength. She glided across the stage, her silent walk slowly mounting into a more profound expression of what Proctor intended as a way to honor Christian women.

After intermission, audiences were treated to a moving love story performed and choreographed gracefully by GCU student Christopher Biles with dancer Samantha Newhall. The piece, titled “Perfect Strangers,” was set to “Falling Slowly” by The Frames (made popular in the film “Once”).

Biles and Newhall conveyed a feeling many in the audience recognized as love, while others could see as a more indirect expression of human connection and allowing one’s self to be enveloped by the familiar spirit in an unfamiliar person.

The performance concluded with a piece titled “Sweet in the Morning” choreographed by GCU dance program artist-in-residence Keith Williams. Set to the Bobby McFerrin song by the same title, the piece began with several dancers piled in a heap at the center of the stage.

The dancers slowly peeled away from the pile, breaking off into what appeared to be spontaneous expressions of faith and joy.

Contact Michael Ferraresi at 639.7030 or michael.ferraresi@gcu.edu.

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